Last time in Operation Sassafras I outlined the beginnings of my creative project, which moved through the steps outlined by Dennis (2012) as The Brief, Research, Concepts and Development of Ideas. Yet before moving on to actually building anything in blocks, I had to assess the situation in the game world; learn the controls, investigate materials and figure out the scale. This required that I move back once again into the research stage.
Although I consider myself a hardcore gamer (all games, all the time. games-games-games), I am not much of a PC person. So while I can find my way around a controller, be it inverted y axis or southpaw layout, keyboard controls are still quite foreign to me. To familiarise myself with the controls, I set out to do the very first task any blocky minecraft-man must do… build a house. Now normally the act of building a house in minecraft is a necessity, for if you find yourself alone in the dark you are sure to be set upon by zombies and exploding creatures called creepers. However as I will be using creative mode (as previously discussed, this mode has all blocks available, no damage by enemies and flying) the terrors of the night are no danger to me, yet it is still a worthwhile activity to learn the ropes.
I won’t dwell on the details of building a house too much, but think of it in the same way as one would make a house out of Lego bricks. You have to use your imagination since it’s all made of squares, but you can be as creative as you like. Since I’m not one to follow the crowd, I moved away from the standard concepts of a ‘house’. Your house has a door, rooms and windows? Perhaps a bedroom, maybe a kitchen? Bah. BAH I SAY. I laugh at your cultural, environmental and organisational confinements (Harman, 2012). I shall think outside the box with my blocks; I will build my house on the edge of a lake, with a glass passageway and glowing floors that runs under the water. See my many mysterious tunnels and caverns, enjoy a break in my lava room and don’t forget to visit my famous squid emporium. See it and weep!
But I digress…. back on the subject of the airship, experimenting within the Minecraft world allowed me to grasp some of the finer details of the game and game engine. This period away from the creative project also acted as the ‘incubation’ time described by Harman, and as such lead to the ‘illumination’ of an appropriate colour scheme to fit with the client’s brief and existing infrastructure of the game. At this stage we also decided to leave some elements for spontaneous development, such as particular room designs, circuits and open areas. This would allow me to build such areas dependent more upon the ‘feel’ of the space, and also step outside of the perceptual confinements (Harman, 2012) that I may have as a person in the real world imagining how to build things, when the reality of the game world could allow for new avenues of creation.
Now that I was ready to get my hands dirty, well… digital-y, the time had come to lay down some blocks. And by some I mean many. Many, many, many blocks. Over the next few weeks I built up the ship, starting with finding an appropriate place for the structure (above the senate building, with the tail heading out across the forest) then laying out markers for the ship’s length and width. With the assistance of Matt, the ship began to take form; I built the ships hull, while Matt outlined the ships airballoons. In hindsight, I wish we had not included so many curves considering the difficulty in forming them with squares – but ’tis what the ‘client’ wants, so curves it is!
Below are just some screenshots of the early stages of Operation Sassafras (at last!). It is far too tedious to add all of them to wordpress, so if you’re interested in checking out more I’ve set up a flickr gallery just for them (see link below the following pictures). There are also many more pictures to come in the future, following the solution to my creative project wicked problem, but more on that another day.
On a side note, a couple of element I had not considered before working on the airship, but which became apparent and frustrating quite quickly were the weather and time features of the game. As you will note in many of the pictures, Minecraft features dynamic weather whereby it may randomly rain or snow for extended periods of time. Unfortunately this impacted quick significantly on the building process, with rain would obscuring my vision and the snow coating bricks in a layer of white (making organising coloured blocks quite difficult). At one stage I was forced to build an overhanging ‘umbrella’ of blocks, as the rain was making it impossible to see what I was doing! Similarly the day and night feature made it very difficult for me to see what I was doing during the ‘night’ time, with small torches and glow stones required to illuminate the areas; even during the daytime I was forced to set up torches to see the shadowed underside of the ship’s bow. Thankfully while Matt was on the server he has the ability to override the night/weather features, but when toiling away on your own they are a serious hinderance.
But honestly, who would have thought weather and lighting would be an issue when working within a video game?! Oh well, you live and learn.
Anyway, that’s it for this part of the creative project update. Now I once again must sleep – I have to be up again in an hour to catch a plane. Good luck to all showing off their creative project summaries and/or presentings this week!
Dennis, P. (2012, September 14). Design Principles. Guest lecture presented in Creativity: Theory, History and Practice. Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.
Harman, J. (2012, August 17). Personal Creative Process. Guest Lecture presented in Creativity: Theory, History and Practice.Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.
All images in this post are either the works of myself, or screen captures from my gameplay within the game Minecraft.